Anime, as a medium, covers a vast number of genres and sub-genres. Two of the most popular genres seen in the anime industry are the mecha and sports genres. While both genres are packed with fantastic titles, these two genres rarely crossover, mostly sticking to their own strengths. However, Basquash! stands out, as it attempts to combine these two genres, and it does so in an utterly fascinating way.
Premiering in 2009, Basquash! was created by Shōji Kawamori and Thomas Romain. Kawamori, a legendary mecha designer, previously working on the fan-favorite series Eureka Seven. additionally, Romain has worked on several legendary projects, including handling the world design for Carole & Tuesday and Macross Delta. The script was written by prolific anime director Tatsuo Satō who has previously written for Argevollen and directed Martian Successor Nadesicot. The series was animated by studio Satelight, most known for their work on the symphogear and Macross franchises.
Basquash! is set in a futuristic, alternative Earth called Earthdash. While this is a futuristic place, society has a massive income inequality problem. The population is split into two opposite groups; the rich reside on the moon in a majestic city called Mooneyes. Those who are not rich stay on the Earth in grim run-down settlements. In this world, one sport dominates all others, Big Foot Basketball, also known as BFB. This game works similarly to basketball, but rather than players running around on the court using their bodies, each player rides in a personalized mech called a Big Foot.
The series follows Dan JD, a young man who hates the Big Foots because one disabled his sister and has believed they’ve made basketball boring. Dan hopes he can earn enough money to get his sister to the moon to get the surgery she needs. When he acquires a Big Foot, he decides to cause chaos at a Big Foot Basketball game, hoping to destroy the sport. Dan easily dominates the pro players, but his antics from him cause the stadium to collapse. Dan spends a year in prison and is told he must pay to rebuild the stadium.
However, when Dan gets out, he learns that his actions at the game inspired a whole new generation of Big Foot Basketball players and that his flamboyant style of mech control has become the dominant style. In fact, Dan has become very famous, and a new sport initially called Big Foot Streetball but later renamed Basquash, is the hottest thing going. So, desperate to pay for his sister’s surgery and to pay off his debt, Dan becomes a Basquash player. However, as he competes, he finds himself in the middle of something much bigger.
One of the best aspects of Basquash! is its visuals. It has a unique aesthetic that fee;s more American than other anime from the time. In fact, the aesthetic perfectly captures the look and feel of the extreme sports subculture of the late 2000s. The environments are also fantastic, capturing the feeling of a downtrodden semi-futuristic dystopia while still looking original and standing out from the pack. And, unlike many dystopian settings, this one feels very lived in, making the world feel alive.
But, the real highlight is the basketball sequences. These sequences perfectly blend the mech and sports elements into one package. While some shows would have simply made the robots play like tall humans who merely look like robots, the animators and writers worked to make the sport feel distinct from real-world basketball and really considered how the mechs would change how the game was played.
So, the mechs are slow and have a sense of weight, but they also use them to do things unachievable in regular sport, like wall running, massive jumps, and hard tackles. On the flip side, robot damage and the sheer difficulty of getting a mech up after it falls are also accounted for, leading to some unique set pieces during the games. This means that many Basquash scenes feel like sports anime. Focusing on how the character’s skills and styles clash in the heat of the moment, with every player trying to find a way to gain an advantage.Basquash! is a fantastic fusion of mecha anime and sports anime that is stunningly unique. It handles mech-based basketball perfectly, leading to plenty of thrilling and exciting scenes. These sequences are combined with some excellent visuals and clever world-building, meaning that Basquash! is an anime everyone should check out, if only because it shows what a dedicated team with space to be creative can do.
Basquash! is now streaming on HIDIVE.